A group of Cal Poly students are collecting signatures to support an initiative that would prevent the expansion of oil drills in Price Canyon in San Luis Obispo County. They argue that the injection wells contaminate the aquifer that runs underneath the field and flows into the ocean, and expanding oil drilling is not necessary.
The initiative would ban new oil and gas wells in San Luis Obispo County, which in effect would also ban fracking, since no fracking wells exist. Sentinel Peak Resources is expected to add 481 additional wells to Price Canyon if the 13,000 signatures are not collected by April.
Sentinel Peak Resources could not be reached for comment.
Fracking is a process of cracking open groundwater with blasts of water to create injection wells. Water flows into the aquifer and carries oil with it into the ocean. The contaminated water is not used as drinking water, but it still could harm the canyon and ocean environments it flows through.
“The Earth goes away; that’s it, if we don’t fix the environment,” political science freshman Rob Moore said. “I think we all must do what we can to better
The biggest issue Moore has is finding students who are registered to vote in San Luis Obispo County, or helping students register locally, he said, which is a prerequisite to join the initiative.
“Our voice has a lot more power here,” Moore said. “It’s a very tangible thing, you can directly better the environment by passing this initiative.” He also urged students to come by his residence hall (Shasta Hall, room 4) to sign the initiative.
Moore has joined the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, which is the main organization to prevent the expansion of oil drills in the canyon.
Sentinel Peak Resources announced it bought the Price Canyon oil field in January 2017.
“This transaction provides the foundation to build a world-class, California-focused oil and gas company, and we look forward to working with the various stakeholders in California in a safe, reliable and environmentally sensitive manner,” President and Chief Executive Officer of Sentinel Peak Resources Michael Duginski said in a press release announcing the purchase.
Moore is working with the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County, which aims to protect water, conserve oil and save the earth, according to Charles Varni, a longtime environmental activist who is in the coalition.
Varni said the oil industry is on its way out, and the expansion of drills may harm the $1.7 billion tourism industry in San Luis Obispo.
“It’s a matter of what kind of development we want,” Varni said. “Our initiative does not affect any existing oil extraction operations in the county. This is only about new oil, and the fact is oil is on its way out.”